Ian Volner | February 14, 2012
The Serpentine Gallery's pavilion annex rises every 12 months from the ashes of the previous year's building, each time under the supervision of a noted world architect, artist, or engineer. Last year, Swiss minimalist Peter Zumthor re-imagined the pavilion as a simple, austere mass; for 2012, the gallery will take a different tack, with the design collaborative of Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei turning the program inward to examine the history of the pavilion itself.Located in the middle of London's scenic Kensington Gardens,
Exposing the sub-level foundations of the pavilion site, the HdM/Weiwei proposal will treat visitors to a synthetic tour of each of the previous 11 projects, whose columns and other structural residue will be reassembled beneath the grassy surface of the park under a glass canopy. The new pavilion—a sort of museum of museums—will be open June-October of this year, just in time for London's 2012 Olympics.
Artist Weiwei, who spent three months last year imprisoned by the Chinese authorities, had this to say of the "archeological" concept: "The three-dimensional reality of this [underground] landscape is astonishing, and it is also the perfect place to sit, stand, lie down or just look and be amazed. In other words, the ideal environment for continuing to do what visitors have been doing in the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions for the past 11 years."